The Ten Commandments. Ben Hur. Easter Parade. Critters 2: The Main Course? Take a journey to the stranger side of the Easter genre with these holiday-appropriate, science fiction film recommendations.
Want to watch a monster movie starring Martin Landau, Dorothy Malone, Jose Ferrer, Mrs. Kenny Rogers and the producer of Flesh Gordon?
One in which Ruth Buzzi leads an ill-fated Easter egg hunt? Keep reading.
When people begin to disappear from the town of Pottsfield, Idaho, the mayor fears a toxic waste dump is responsible—but worries the economic impact of exposing the dump could seriously inhibit potato sales. Turns out, the waste only mutated one small boy into a red-green, slime-drenched cannibal. Thank goodness the potatoes were safe!
The Being was both written and directed by the beautiful and mysterious Jackie Kong, whose other films include Night Patrol and increasingly popular Blood Diner. The Being was filmed in 1980 under the title Easter Sunday, but shelved for three years until its brief theatrical release in 1983 as The Being. Featuring a great-looking monster, and yes, Ruth Buzzi leading an Easter egg hunt, The Being could be your new annual chaser to Ben-Hur.
White “Pop” Jesus
An Italian musical in which Jesus fights the mafia and wins the heart of a woman named Lettuce! I had to watch it without English subtitles, so I’m a bit iffy on the plot specifics, but the music, composed by Franco Bixio and Vince Tempera, known for scoring Lucio Fulci’s The Psychic, is quite fun — especially if you’re a fan of glam-tinged Italian western music – or think you might be.
Christopher Lambert plays a Cajun detective (Ooof!) transferred to Chicago, and partnered with Leland Orser to solve the case of a mysterious serial killer who likes to steal severed limbs from his victims. Turns out, the killer (won’t spoil it with a personal pronoun) is trying to reconstruct the body of Christ in time for Easter, Franken-style. And David Cronenberg plays a priest. Directed by the amazing Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, Razorback, Ricochet, The Total Eclipse of the Heart music video, and too many other great things to mention) Resurrection came and went in 1999 without too much praise or recognition, but it’s a great alternative to the Ten Commandments if you’re looking for something a little more skin crawling. Or if you just want to see what Christopher Lambert’s take on Gambit from the X-Men would be like.
The Passover Plot
A dramatization of the 1970’s best-selling book positing an alternate theory for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Namely, that he took a drug to simulate his own death in a bait-and-switch heist with the apostles, like an Oceans 11 movie (which, minus Judas Iscariot is eleven accomplices total!) Although it seems to have sunk into oblivion in the years since its release, it received an Oscar nomination in 1976 for Best Costume Design — but lost to Fellini’s Casanova. The movie stars Zalman King and Donald Pleasance, so you know you want to see it.
Another zany take on the Christ story from Robert Downey, Sr., this one features a Christ-like figure in a zoot suit named Jesse on his way to Jerusalem to make it as a triple-threat singer/dancer/actor. But not if the King Herod proxy, Seaweedhead Greaser has anything to say about it.
This odd western featuring Herve Villechaize and the Holy Spirit (portrayed as a man in a white sheet wearing a derby hat) is perhaps not for all tastes, but anyone can appreciate the brilliant cinematography, and off-putting comedic timing from the patrons of the Palace. As Jesse puts it:
“I bring you a message. Exactly six miles north of Skagg Mountain in the Valley of Pain, there lives an evil devil-monster. His name is Bingo Gas Station Motel Cheeseburger With A Side Of Aircraft Noise And You'll Be Gary Indiana. And he loves to hurt people. The last time I saw Bingo Gas Station Motel Cheeseburger With A Side Of Aircraft Noise And You'll Be Gary Indiana, he told me what he wants to do. He wants to come down here and kill each and every one of you. But I said to him: 'Bingo, wait a minute!'.And the reason I said that is because I believe in you people. I believe you can do the job. I believe you can help each other. I believe you can make this world a better place to live in. That's it.”
Look for a cameo from Robert Downey, Jr. as a deformed, Quasimodo-like child.
Critters 2: The Main Course
The yardstick all Easter-themed science fiction movies are judged by, Critters 2 brings the Crites back to Grover’s Bend for another round of bloodthirsty hedgehog-on-alien bounty hunter mayhem. This time, the critter’s eggs are mistaken for the painted Easter variety, leading to suspenseful egg hunts and a scene where a man in a rabbit costume has his genitals bitten off before crashing through a stained glass window during a church service. It’s that kind of movie. Featuring a pastel-heavy color palette, Critters 2 really does have a feel for the holiday, with most of the action taking place midday – and a finale where all the critters form into one huge ball that skeletonizes people with its crushing wheel of teeth. It just seems appropriate.
With tonight’s “Blood Moon” eclipse (the shortest of the century, at five minutes) signaling the apocalypse for some, it’s a good day to watch 1991’s, The Rapture, directed by Michael Tolkin, and starring Mimi Rogers and David Duchovny.
When Sharon (Rogers), a woman generally bored and dissatisfied with life, notices faithful people are happier, she decides to convert and becomes “born again”. However, her demanding new religion strips her of everything she found positive about her bleak life, and when the rapture comes – and it really does come in this movie – she’s already lost everything she cared about.
Tolkin’s film, which will undoubtedly offend some, takes its subject seriously, and asks what the unequivocal existence of God would actually mean. When Judgment Day arrives, it’s God being judged. So it’s a bit like Star Trek V.